In the midst of big questions regarding the trade that would send superstar Mookie Betts and veteran left-hander David Price to Los Angeles, the Dodgers have made a move to distract that notion. Infielder Max Muncy will remain in blue for the next three seasons, inking a $26MM extension to avoid arbitration. He will make an average annual value of $8.6MM and has a $13.5MM fourth-year option for 2023 that includes a $1.5MM buyout.
Primarily a second and first baseman, Muncy broke out onto the scene in 2018 with L.A. after spending 6 seasons in the Athletics organization. He never made it big as a major leaguer with Oakland, playing only 96 games with the club that drafted him, hitting only 5 home runs and combining for a .195/.290/.321 triple-slash line. His OPS+ was also dreadful, significantly below league average at 70.
But things took a turn for Muncy when he got the call that he was heading down the coast on a minor league pact. After an unexpectedly pleasant stint at AAA Oklahoma, he was added to the 25-man roster. In the midst of a playoff run, Muncy added the big bat that the Dodgers needed. Breaking out onto the scene, he hit .263/.391/.582 with a 162 wRC+ and 35 home runs. The power that had been long missing up north earned him a spot on the coveted Home Run Derby roster. He helped the Dodgers make a long playoff run yet again, though ultimately falling weak to the 108-win Red Sox.
There was significant pressure on Muncy to follow up on his successes in 2019, and he didn’t disappoint, slashing .251/.374/.515 on his way to his first All-Star Game appearance. His wRC+ dropped but was still exceedingly above average at 134. His 35 homers and 98 RBI contributed to an L.A. lineup that smashed their way into another postseason run, though they ultimately ended up losing to the World Series champion Washington Nationals in the NLDS.
The Dodgers are certainly expecting 2020 to finally be their year, given this and other recent moves.
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